Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, electric utility giant The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) has earned a respected four-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at Southern's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

Southern facts

Headquarters (founded) Atlanta (1945)
Market Cap $39.4 billion
Industry Electric utilities
Trailing-12-Month Revenue $16.9 billion
Management Chairman/CEO Thomas Fanning
CFO Art Beattie
Return on Equity (average, past 3 years) 12%
Cash/Debt $665.0 million / $22.0 billion
Dividend Yield 4.4%
Competitors CenterPoint Energy
NextEra Energy

Sources: S&P Capital IQ and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 95% of the 1,084 members who have rated Southern believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward.

Just last week, one of those bulls, skwimmer77, tapped Southern as a particularly solid pick:

[Southern] historically provides stability in depressed markets and recovers more quickly than most on emerging from depressed markets. [Southern] is making the change to natural gas fired plants as a replacement for coal energy. It's cheaper, simpler to permit and operate, and less polluting. Other utilities are going this direction; [Southern] is simply in the lead.  

If you want market-beating returns, you need to put together the best portfolio you can. Owning exceptional stocks is a surefire way to secure your financial future. Of course, despite a strong four-star rating, Southern may not be your top choice.

If that's the case, we've compiled a special free report for investors called "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need," which uncovers a few other juicy income opportunities. The report is 100% free, but it won't be around forever, so click here to access it now.

Want to see how well (or not so well) the stocks in this series are performing? Follow the TrackPoisedTo CAPS account.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.